First the bad news: the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, an invasive species that kills hemlock trees, has been confirmed in Allegany State Park, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced today.
On the bright side, early detection – as well as this past winter’s severity of cold – are expected to help limit the spread of the insect in the park.
“Thanks to an early detection of this insect by park volunteers, State Parks has taken immediate action to eliminate the detected HWA populations, and step up efforts to search for additional infestations within the park,” said Rose Harvey, commissioner of state parks.
The adelgid was found by “trained citizen scientist volunteers” at two locations while canvassing the park. The discovery was later confirmed by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.
The insect is “aphidlike” and has devastated hemlock trees throughout the Appalachians and Northeast over the last 20 years. It feeds on the twigs of hemlock trees during winter months, but is susceptible to sustained temperatures in the single-digits or below because the insects can’t move once they attach themselves to the tree twig.
Cornell University scientist Mark Whitmore estimated earlier this year that more than 90 percent of the population had already been wiped out by the extreme cold January weather in upstate New York.
Born from that was opportunity.
“It could buy us an extra year to come up with management strategies,” Whitmore told The Buffalo News.
State Parks officials said Allegany State Park contains “large ecologically important hemlock stands and documented old growth hemlock communities.” The state intends to employ measures to “limit further spread” of the adelgid in Allegany State Park and other properties, according to today’s statement.